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Andrew Sutherland "Sutho" (Surrey outposts)
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Mitre IC Tungsten Shinguards - Blue/Yellow - M
Mitre IC Tungsten Shinguards - Blue/Yellow - M
Price: £9.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Strong but comfortable shinpads... a shame the ankle socks aren't detachable though, 17 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Hadn't realised Mitre was still a going concern - but these shinpads are decent! Main pros: Robust (obviously crucial) yet lightweight and very comfortable (also important). Just one con really... the ankle sock, though nice and padded, isn't removable for putting in the washing machine- a minor quibble.


Flesh And Machine
Flesh And Machine
Price: £13.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The record Lanois was destined to make..., 11 Nov 2014
This review is from: Flesh And Machine (Audio CD)
'Total artistic rebirth' sounds a bit exaggerative but that's what the press I've seen around Flesh and Machine is hailing it - the logic being that this is essentially an ambient album, comprising hundreds of hours of processed source sounds, and hence squarely at variance with previous Lanois solo albums, which have tended to follow a pretty conventional 'song' form - albeit fairly individualistic and with recurrent instrumental forays centred on lap-steel guitar (his last album proper, Here Is What Is, having struck a good balance between the two, and signalling, I had thought, the culmination of where he'd been heading ever since his glorious debut album Acadie). Whereas there are no 'songs' on Flesh and Machine as such - only soundscapes. That said, Lanois' origins can be traced back to ambient music (see his early collaborations with Brian Eno, notably Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks) and he subsequently made his name with a production style overtly centred on atmospheric guitars and ambient reverb... so on one level, it's not a wholly surprising 'departure'. Time has moved on, though, and it overstates things to pretend that this is breaking entirely new ground as the Eno collaborations were thirty years ago: there's plenty of artists nowadays ploughing vaguely similar furrows within ambient, minimalist, instrumental and experimental fields, mixing electronics with processed instrumentation ... that said, Lanois' variant of the genre does seem somewhat different, mainly because it feels like it's emanating from a real musician rather than a pure technologist; it never totally breaks with the harmonious orthodoxy... there's obvious musicality here, not simply 'atmosphere'... although there's plenty of that, too. Detractors would probably question whether the songs are too terse, linear and/or disciplined to truly warrant the term. I'm not sure. Whatever you call it, the results are pretty wondrous. Some tracks here comprise little more than evocative layers of ambient noise, whereas others involve the sustained deployment of the sorts of sonic tricks that Lanois has previously only ever used in a more measured way, to add background colour to the margins of records by others (Dylan, Neil Young et al). Whereas here, the heavily processed guitars, pianos and vocals are pushed to the fore - no longer superfluities but the actual meat; the superstructure itself. Not that Flesh and Machine comprises variations on a continuous theme or one big 'piece'; instead the tracks' brevity - most are sub-4 minutes - and tonal dissimilarities causes the record to feel like a collection of perfectly formed little sonic haikus: always creditable; occasionally quite enchanting -especially where Lanois' mastery of pedal steel finds clearest expression, as on Aquatic and Space Love, with their slow, intertwining tones and harmonics. But here, unlike, say, the Belladona or Omni albums, Lanois' guitar isn't fully exposed; it's attenuated by a cloud of dense electronic haze, and the resulting sense of juxtaposition is gorgeous. The same is true of Forest City, my favourite track here by far: a single, unbroken, long-chord dirge that sounds like some transmission from the bottom of the seabed, sporadically interrupted with a bubbling toroidal upsurge of keys that cut through to the surface (pardon the metaphor, but to my ears it really does sound like those vortex-rings that dolphins blow!). Elsewhere, things actually get oddly dynamic and 'free' sounding on the The End and Opera, which feel more like symphonic techno than ambient. Not surprisingly, a sense of disjointedness does creep in at times... but in the main things hold together, largely thanks to Lanois' gliding, guiding vision and the peculiar, almost otherworldly sense of the ethereal that's discernible throughout. You might call it: ambience.


Winnie The Pooh Balloon Lightshow
Winnie The Pooh Balloon Lightshow
Price: £16.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice enough light display... shame about the horrible audio, 10 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Nothing much to write home about here: a fairly unremarkable rigid plastic Winnie The Pooh figure which, once activiated (by pressing his head) plays a range of five lullabies and projects a starry (static) light effect (for 10 or 20-minutes depending on how you set the timer) out from the balloon he's holding. The starry light display is nice enough projected on the ceiling... but the lullabies are awful; sound quality is very tinny and jarring and too loud. Luckily, you can turn the audio off. There is no 'Winnie the Pooh' angle as such, other than the shape of the figurine - there's no spoken dialogue or anything like that. There are much nicer options for settling babies- I personally would recommend "Ewan the Dream Sheep", who, unlike Pooh, is cuddly and tactile, has a range of genuinely soothing sounds and projects a very comforting light.


Battroborg Samurai Vs Ninja Battle Set
Battroborg Samurai Vs Ninja Battle Set

4.0 out of 5 stars Tiny, motion-controlled fighting bots... this time with samurai swords: what's not to like?, 8 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The original Battroborgs game came out last year, but then the motion-controlled battling robots could only punch each other in the face... this time it's all about armed combat: Battroborg Warriors wield swords and scythes! Better still, the dual-fisted controls from last time have been replaced by a more streamlined Wii-style single accelerometer-based remote.... complete with sound effects and shaped like a Samurai-sword! The long and short of which is that this is going to appeal to little boys in a major, major way.... the aim of the game is simple: topple your opponent, but it's easier said than done. There are 2 robots; a red cyber sword-wielding samurai and a purple and black ninja armed with dual weapons - both are quite customisable and the designs and build quality are actually pretty decent.. although I'd steer clear of very rough manhandling by younger toddlers... I doubt it would withstand that level of abuse. In terms of gameplay, it's simple enough to turn your warrior, by flicking the controller in the same direction over and over again. Fuller swings with the controller, launch each warrior's attack. There's a "g-sensor" inside the robot which lights up when it's been `killed'. The battle arena this time is fairly small -not an entirely bad thing though because it's ready right out of the box; no assembly - plus nowhere to hide = more confrontation. There is a tendency to get `trapped' in a corner though. The robots are charged off the controllers so don't need separate batteries. You get about 20 minutes of combat before needing to recharge... the controllers do need a total of 8 AA batteries though, and these aren't included - so bear that in mind if this will be a Christmas present (it would make quite an impressive present; looks very swish in the box).


Kid Galaxy Mega Morphibian Crocodile
Kid Galaxy Mega Morphibian Crocodile
Price: £14.70

4.0 out of 5 stars Finally, an All Terrain 4WD R/C car that can be driven through proper puddles!, 3 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There's a car park near my place which gets *huge* puddles after decent rainfall... sad as it is for a grown man to admit but the little boy in me has always fancied racing through them withan R/C car, and now finally- I can! That's ultimately the USP of the Morphibian, after all - it drives on dry land and motors through even deep water and being robustly constructed and with decent, chunky tyres and 4WD, can be driven on fairly uneven terrain, too. All of which makes it ideally suited to outdoor use... the perfect incentive for the youngster who doesn't want to go for a walk! But if you don't plan on driving it al fresco, there are probably better options for purely indoor driving becuase the plastic tyres don't handle lino or tiled floors very well and it's not the most responsive steering.


Childish Prodigy
Childish Prodigy
Price: £9.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highlight so far on my backwards journey through Kurt Vile's oeuvre, 28 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Childish Prodigy (Audio CD)
My stereo has had Kurt Vile on constant rotation lately... he's monopolising my ears! Weird, because only a month ago I'd judged the book by its cover and nigh-on written him off as being 'not-my-cup-of-tea' for reasons unknown. Anyway... one leap of faith, five albums and a couple of EPs later and I've now undertaken an almighty volte-face: each of his records has struck a real chord... but it's this one above all that has really squirmed its way under my skull. Oddly, I recall not being particularly taken at first introduction - but it's been the same story with each album; they've all taken a good half dozen listens to reveal their considerable but deep-rooted charms. For once the cliché of 'the grower' seems truly apt: something weird happens the sixth or seventh time you play a Kurt Vile album! I began with his most recent effort, Wakin On A Pretty Daze - his most focused set of songs and hence a decent start point - and worked backwards, through the much-touted Smoke Ring For My Halo (mellower, looser, less cosmic) and ultimately ending up at the beginning with Constant Hitmaker and God Is Saying This To You, both collections of earlier home recordings that pre-date Childish Prodigy, which is technically his third record but in another sense feels like his first 'proper' album. Gone is the pieced-together lo-fi aesthetic of the earlier records: C.P. is a cohesive entity, best taken en bloc, rather than shuffled around and consumed piecemeal. Half the songs here have full-band-style arrangements bordering on the 'catchy'... albeit in a very loose, offhand, psychedelic-rock sense... also they have a vaguely 'bummerish', downbeat quality that stops them descending/ascending into purer 'pop' territory (Amplifier, with its skittering, propulsive drums and out-of-nowhere, gorgeous trumpet coda, being my favourite). The other half of the record comprises much more stripped-down material, the best of which is really pretty stark and has a strange, stupefactive, almost hypnotic quality; most notably Dead Alive and the absolutely-spellbinding Heart Attack, with its recurrent, circling guitar line and repeated refrain (of "You better get yer head, re-screwed on"). Far from awkward bedfellows, they sit beautifully beside the more fulsome tracks and, after a while, proceedings really do meld into something that, to invoke another rock music cliché, amounts to far greater than the sum of its parts.


Heli [DVD]
Heli [DVD]
Dvd ~ Armando Espitia
Price: £7.20

4.0 out of 5 stars Very strong meat, served New Wave Mexican-style, 26 Oct 2014
This review is from: Heli [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There is no getting away from the fact that this film is very tough to watch at times and I say that as a fairly season viewer of raw, ‘gritty’ cinema. That said, my wife is absolutely not, and so I watched this solo: I can say for sure that she would have loathed its gruesome depictions of (sexual) violence and extended torture scenes, irrespective of the film’s wider merits, which are actually considerable. But the violence, whilst gruesome, is not in my view gratuitous, and hence doesn’t undermine the artistic value of the film, which, given that it centres on a good man’s inadvertent slippage into the world of drugs and criminal violence, was never going to be gentle-going. But the brutality on show here is not depicted for its own sake; it’s an inescapable ingredient for what turns out to be a damning indictment of the institutionalised corruption of contemporary Mexico. And amid the bloodshed there are some small, moments of cinematic reprieve to be sure. Be that as it may, it would have given my wife nightmares and I'd not recommend this to sensitive souls and those faint of heart.


Brabantia Flatback+ Pedal Bin, 40 L - Matt Steel
Brabantia Flatback+ Pedal Bin, 40 L - Matt Steel
Price: £140.36

5.0 out of 5 stars A feature-packed bin that's more than the sum of its many parts, 26 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A bin is a bin or so you might think, but this one does have a decent claim to be a cut above given the host of small but significant features it comes with, most of which work a treat… which is a good job really given it’ll set you back more than a hundred quid!
In terms of specs: this is a 40 litre capacity bin (actually not that massive compared to some so do bear that in mind) which takes size ‘L’ Branbantia bags (it comes with one pack included). The height is a little over 2 feet (26 inches to be precise) and at its widest point it measures 17 inches wide. The depth is just 11 inches (a very useful dimension to keep in mind- more of which below!).

So… what of the feautres?
1. Most obvious is the flat-back design meaning less dead space and jutting out from the wall than conventional spherical bins; this is a genuinely useful idea in a modest-sized kitchen where the bin lives in the corner of the room, flush against the wall! I measured and with the bin flush against the wall, at the widest point, it juts out 11 inches into the room- not at all bad going.
2. The lid doesn’t open fully vertical, meaning it won’t clatter against the wall even when the pedal is fully depressed: again, another useful idea (our kitchen wall clearly bears the scars from previous bins that lacked this feature!). There is a minor issue with this however because without the lid at 90 degrees, removing the inner bucket is *slightly* more fiddly.
3. The lid is also ‘soft close’ so, once you’re foot’s off the pedal, it gently shuts rather than slams – another important extra
4. The stainless steel finish is genuinely non-marking – I wasn’t sure about this but it genuinely doesn’t show fingerprints which is yet another massive plus, especially if you have small children, whose sticky fingers normally don’t mix well with stainless steel. That said, I’m not so keen on the steel-finish pedal; I’d sooner that was rubber or plastic or something more durable/easily cleanable.
5. There’s a carry handle on the back of the bin… although that’s hardly an indispensable feature given that a kitchen bin will generally live solely in the same spot of your kitchen and you only ever remove and transport the inner bucket
6. Speaking of which: the inner bucket has little pop-up handles which make removing the bin-liner a real doddle (unlike our last bin which, when full, needed the liner manually prizing out)
7. The build quality is excellent: it’s weighty and sturdy and feels like it will last. The 10 year guarantee is nice but probably won’t be called upon.

Ultimately, spending this much on a bin will be a personal decision but if space is an issue and money isn’t, then I’d recommend this as pretty much the perfect kitchen bin.


Star Wars Rebels Command Star Destroyer
Star Wars Rebels Command Star Destroyer
Price: £22.50

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "It's Star Wars... and it kills everybody!", 26 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
That was the verdict of my 6 year old nephew, who is Star Wars-potty and digs this greatly. He's at the lower end of the suitable age range, I'd say it's for 6-9 year olds. Pros: Mercifully easy to assemble. Great fun to play with: zooms around to floor; makes a decent set of noises but isn't too loud; the remote controlling is fun; it's easy to use. The size is quite compact. Cons: the build quality is a bit flimsy for the price point and the wings that come out to allow the green balls to come out are difficult close it back up.


LeapFrog Mobile Med Kit
LeapFrog Mobile Med Kit
Price: £11.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Likeable but fairly limited (and awfully packaged) medical-themed play, 20 Oct 2014
This review is from: LeapFrog Mobile Med Kit (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In sum, what you're getting here is a push-along toy 'ambulance' which plays various vaguely-medical themed songs (e.g. 'Head, shoulders knees and toes') and says a bunch of vaguely-health-related phrases when its big red flashing 'siren' is pushed. The ambulance houses 4 toy medical instruments: a stethoscope, otoscope, thermometer and syringe. These can either be played with freely or in tandem with the ambulance which, when its siren is pressed, gives the odd a medical-themed 'task' to complete e.g. 'Take your temperature using the thermometer to see if you've got a fever' etc. Like so many of these sorts of toys, the volume is adjustable but still too loud even on the quietest setting. A minor hit with my child for the timebeing but I forsee a limited shelf-life: the sounds, songs and role-plays 'tasks' are all limited in number and play seemingly at random- so if the child wants a 'task' they would have to repeatedly press the siren and work their way through a bunch of songs and noises until they get one. The instruments don't really 'do' a great deal either. Also, not that any child will mind but this is absolutely the worst-packaged toy I have ever encountered: it literally took me 10 mins with a Swiss army knife to get through all the plastic ties and cardboard- utterly ridiculous!!!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2014 10:40 PM GMT


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